The Guilt Fairy

I am never going to win an award for being either mother or daughter of the year. I know I’ll never be mother of the year, because my 18 year old daughter is always telling me how bad I am at motherhood. I’m sure she’s a much better mother, despite having no children yet, than I’ll ever be, and I concede that title to her (in the future—the DISTANT future!)

I’m trying to do better in the daughter category, since becoming a responsible adult is on my to do list this year, and being a good daughter is what a responsible adult woman does. I was reminded of that this morning after church, while chatting with a neighbor in the parking lot. “In less than three years, all the kids will be gone and I’ll have more time to volunteer,” I said. “That’s right, but then it’ll be time to take care of your parents,” she reminded me. “It’s a blessing that you still have them to care for.”

That certainly jolted my womanly guilt fairy. She’s been slacking lately, and I’ve let myself make excuses for not doing all sorts of things women “ought” to do. Grocery shopping? Send the teenager. House cleaning? It’s not that bad, and no one is coming over. Sending cards to friends and relatives who are sick/having a birthday/need a friend/mourning? I’m out of cards, and the teenager doing the grocery shopping wouldn’t pick up the right ones. That’s a stretch, so I knew the fairy was not doing her job. Helping my aunt with my elderly grandmother. Okay, the fairy must still be living in the area, because I do feel guilty that I have not been more help. But the excuse fairy is working overtime to come up with reasons for not volunteering, the best one being that since she didn’t call to ask, she must be doing okay without my help. That’s pretty lame, but it’s all I got.

Now the guilt fairy was home and paying attention. I was going to have dinner with my mother in just a couple of hours. Mom’s been having a problem with double vision lately and it makes her dizzy and seasick. Just the day before, she had stayed home from a picnic because she felt unwell. I knew that my daughter (the future good little mother) had already volunteered to cook dinner later. And I knew that Mom probably didn’t feel up to cleaning the house. The guilt fairy saw a perfect opportunity.

An hour before dinner time, I presented myself at Mom’s, ready to do my part as a good daughter and clean her house, including all three and a half bathrooms (my own dirty bathroom being ignored as usual.) I felt quite self-righteous and my halo had a new shine. My mother looked at me like I was nuts. “I got up and cleaned and dusted everything the other day. Maybe it doesn’t look clean, but I can’t tell since I can’t see straight!” she said. The excuse fairy was right on that, throwing the guilt fairy down and sitting on her. Mom cleaned, it looked fine to me, okay, let’s eat!

I am never going to win the daughter of the year award. But one of these days, when Mom actually needs it, I’ll clean all three and a half of those bathrooms. For now, I’ll just give thanks that she doesn’t need it yet.

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